Pope Says Nope To Dope

With the legal sale of recreational cannabis going into effect last week in Colorado, CNN has released a new poll which shows that only 35% of the population believes toking up is morally wrong and a clear majority supports legalization.  Unlike other hot-button social issues that are more evenly divided, faithful Catholics are decidedly in the minority here. With our faith under attack in so many other ways, we may be tempted to let this issue slide, but this would be a grave mistake.



Last summer, Pope Francis spoke plainly about the dangers of liberalizing drug policy saying, “The scourge of drug-trafficking, that favours violence and sows the seeds of suffering and death, requires of society as a whole an act of courage.” As Catholics, we are called to help the poor and the weak. What good does it do to volunteer at a soup kitchen or donate old clothes if we simultaneously support policies that feed into addictions that are so often at the root of homelessness in the first place?

As Pope Francis is at pains to reiterate at every opportunity, the moral law follows from our concern for our fellow man. When the Catechism states, “The use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life,” this is not merely some prudish moralizing. Such proscriptions are motivated by our love for our neighbors and our desire to improve the human condition in real and concrete ways instead of dulling our perception to misery and suffering.

St. Maximilian Kolbe, Patron Saint of Drug Addicts

St. Maximilian Kolbe, Patron Saint of Drug Addicts

Marijuana, like any drug, alters the mind. It produces a numbing and euphoric effect that is far more potent than alcohol or tobacco. In this altered state of mind, anyone who uses cannabis is shutting out the world and retreating into the self. This self-absorption is the root of all sin and the is exactly the opposite of our calling as disciples of Christ. We are meant to go out into the world and to live and proclaim the Gospel, not to pass out under a cloud of THC and a mound of crumbled Doritos.

The only altered state of mind that can bring true happiness is to succumb to the all-powerful embrace of God’s love. When we perform an act of charity or unite our voice with the saints in prayer, we are actively changing the world for the better. Instead of sowing pot seeds, we must sow hope and compassion not only in our own hearts, but in the hearts of others, especially the most vulnerable. To borrow from Nancy Reagan: “just say no” to drugs and just say yes to God.

  • http://www.paulaokeefe.blogspot.com Pai la

    Personally I agree with the notion of keeping your mind clear amd reason sound. Yet I see people who suffer severely anxiety disorders finding pot helpful and certainly it helps terminal patients with pain control. IDK, I agree with the pope, yet I see so many other issues like taking drugs away from dangerous black market with legalization. This is a tough one, but I so respect our Pope….I believe he is right.

  • Jack Mason

    The legalization and control of cannabis sales actually is an attempt to stop “The scourge of drug-trafficking, that favours violence and sows the seeds of suffering and death, requires of society as a whole an act of courage.” If drugs are legalized and sale and production controlled then drug trafficking ends.

  • Chuck

    How is pot more potent then alcohol? That is just dumb.

    Addiction is a medical condition. Treating non-violent addicts as criminals is both morally and logically wrong.

  • Alaina

    Pope Francis always agrees with the CCC. It is people’s perceptions of the Catholic Faith that he disagrees with. Even many Catholics today don’t truly understand what the Church actually teaches. Her message is simple: love always.

  • constance

    As a Registered Nurse, I have seen a lot of suffering of people with usage of substances. Fact of the matter is that ANY substance can be abused. Food as well as Pharmaceuticals.
    In the 1990’s there was a surge of interest in natural plants ans their pharmaceutical use/properties. These are all the plants God placed here …. and we are to put them under our dominion. There are many factors and business areas that only desire profit, and they don’t care about the moral or life complications in the development of society.
    The church is WISE to issue that we are always to be in possession of our ability to reason and judge adequately. There are few times that one needs to freely submit to mind/body altering substances, surgery being the only one I know of. What if we discover ( as we are today in research) that people are using the medicinal properties of cannabis all wrong?– What if we discover that the oil/other products are remedy to many maladies that can be alleviated/remedied? Please, some one educate me on what Scripture means when she talks about the plant of renown?

  • Andres Riofrio

    Like the previous commenters, I’m skeptical of using the Pope’s comments against drug liberalization. While violence is certainly a part of today’s drug industry, violence would actually decrease if drug was legalized (this is similar to Prohibition).

    Furthermore, it doesn’t seem to follow, from the fact that taking drugs is immoral, that we should put in jail anyone who takes said drugs. In fact, it seems that the War on Drugs does disproportionate damage to minorities and the poor, without actually protecting them from the negative effects of drugs.

    • Joshua Mercer

      I think you raise some good points to consider.



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